Everyone wants to make nice with Barack Obama these days but particularly in DC, with its eight year history of favoring those who give money to the party in charge and spout the party line, many don't know what to do.
If you watched Fox News for a few days after the election you know what I mean - it was like a short circuited computer - people who were used to spilling bile and cutting off anyone who disagreed with them suddenly had to report on the smart, African American who will now lead the nation for the next four years. They had espoused hope for so long they couldn't talk about it - and then I just stopped watching.
Obama's new message of inclusiveness, let's invite everybody to the table and figure out what to do as a nation, is in many ways just a return to the American spirit of we're all in this together - and family and community first. Although conservatives tried to co-opt traditional American values as theirs - it was only true for those like them. Now it's about all of us. And it makes perfect sense in the world of the Internet and social networking - we are all connected and we all have a voice - so why not listen to it?
So how do we as marketers - in this thorough mess of a world we live in - capitalize on this new message of let's come together. How can we employ it to build our businesses?
Here are some thoughts:
Reach out to all your employees. CEOs, particularly those who are very well paid, are not very popular these days. There are too many line workers getting laid off, and to many mid-level employees who are terrified of losing their jobs. Start a breakfast series - have your top management invite a rotating group of employees at every level and from every department to the conference room each month to share what they've heard from customers and/or ideas for new products or services. And let them know about and take credit for what you use.
Start a Mentoring ProgramYour public schools need you. Far too many local middle and high schools never see business people in their classrooms, even when they are studying a subject related to your business. In Chatanooga, TN a few years ago, senior executives of local companies met with teachers from local high schools and discussed the kinds of skills they needed in graduates who come to work for them. The curriculum changed to make kids better prepared to go to work in their communities and executives started coming into high school classrooms. It went a long way to building business/education partnerships and all benefited.
Open your doors to the community for a day.
Most people know very little about the businesses that live and breathe right near them. Work with the local Chamber of Commerce to schedule one day a year as a Business Open House. Arrange tours of your facilities. Let people meet your employees. If you make a product give out free samples. Explain what you do and the value you deliver. Get your local politicians involved too. The next time people need a product or service - they will think local.
Don't cancel the office Christmas party, invite families and kids of both employees and clients. Times are tough and people are scared. Good cheer goes a long way in rough times. There was an article in the Washington Post recently about the Great Depression (yes it was upsetting and the stock market went below 8,000 the next day) and how everyone pitched in and helped each other during that time. Let your employees, your customers, your vendors and their families know you care. Schedule the party for after the holiday season too - it will save you a bundle.